NSA

By David Lauter
January 17, 2014, 8:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama has proposed changes in how the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence bodies conduct surveillance and collect data. Here’s a summary of what he’s proposing to change and what’s staying the same:

Telephone data:

What’s staying the same:

The NSA will still have access to a vast database of information about virtually all telephone calls made to or from the United States. Civil liberties advocates have wanted to limit any data collection to specific numbers suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, but intelligence officials have argued they need access to the “entire haystack” to trace possible terrorist plots.

That database does not include the content of phone calls. It compiles numbers that are called and the times and duration of calls. Despite an apparently widespread belief, the NSA and other intelligence agencies do not eavesdrop on U.S. phone calls. The FBI can tap phone lines, but needs a warrant to do so.

The NSA will continue to have power to eavesdrop on telephone calls overseas.

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